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The ups and downs of being in business during the covid-19 crisis

Coquet Island just before dawn
Olympus OM-D
17th May 2020
Editing and Developing Software
28th May 2020

Covid-19 is a horrible disease. It has hit people’s health, destroyed lives and caused economic hardship. Although there is little we can do to change how the whole economy is affected, we can do all we can to help us be in a stronger business position when we come out of the other side.

The opportunities the crisis brings

A mechanic I once new, stereotypically, had a car in a bad state of repair. I also knew a personnel manager whose family life was chaotic. An electrician acquaintance had his house catch fire because of poor maintenance of his house wiring.

How many professional cooks suffer heart disease from a bad diet? Are there painters who fail to decorate their houses and gardeners whose lawns are knee-high with grass? I guess there will be plenty.

What do you do for a living? Is it a job that relates to things you do at home? If so, does that area get neglected? Perhaps this Covid-19 crisis is an opportunity to address that. I’ve taken advantage of this time.

Worker carrying buckets
Hard at work

I’m Guilty!

The slowing down of most of my business during the covid-19 crisis has allowed me to catch up on work I needed to do.

Besides photography, I design and develop websites. Although forever working on customer’s online presences, or fixing issues for them when they break their sites, or repairing their computers, this website of mine became sadly neglected.

The responsiveness of the sliders on the home page had stopped so the layout didn’t look good on mobile phones. Mobiles account for just over half of web traffic worldwide. So that needed sorting.

Also, the shop categories required rearranging and new products added and old ones removed. That’s still a work in progress as I hunt through my cataogue of images.

Golden sunrise over Coquet Island and a gull flying low over stormy sea.
An image that will be sold as a limited edition print

Procrastination negation hits the nation

I had a few customers contacting me online for lessons and a handful more wanting websites. But like many other businesses hit by the empty streets, things for me are quiet.

The coronavirus means little paid work coming in. So this quarantine has been an ideal opportunity to do those tasks I’ve neglected (I’m calling it quarantine and not ‘lockdown’ because the latter sounds like we are in prison) and lots of outstanding jobs are getting done.

Woman walking in an otherwise empty street. Covid-19 brought our high streets to a standstill.
Almost empty streets

So, much of the last few weeks have been spent sorting out stuff I put aside to do later. The big pile of papers sitting in my in-tray are filed or shredded. Similarly, my newspaper column is up to date with articles submitted through to the end of June. I also even completed my tax return on the second day of the financial year. Furthermore, I’m studying, and I have completed several modules of that course.

Gladly, my website is now in a much better state than it was before too.

There are still plenty more things to keep me busy. My shed roof needs felting, I have parts for my bicycle on order and there are always meals to cook and floors to clean.

I am a bit baffled by those people who say they are bored!

Sorting my catalogue

Another job is sorting out my photographs. Sifting through my images, I am consigning unwanted photos to the recycle bin and picking out forgotten gems to use in my blog or sell as prints.

While doing so, I saw this anonymous quote, “My image catalogue is well-organised, all my albums printed and my blog is up to date … said no photographer ever.” I wonder if that state of completion is becoming a reality for plenty of photographers at the moment.

Clearing out Facebook

I’m halfway through spring-cleaning my social media too. We all follow things that we don’t need. I was a member of a few Facebook groups that added nothing to either my life or my business. Also, some Twitter feeds were cheerless. They were nothing more than time-wasting distractions that I could never give to nor take from.

Next, I reviewed my membership of a couple of business groups that always seemed full of promise with hints at exciting opportunities, but they never came up with the goods. They were binned.

Street performers will lose out because of Covid-19
What are you missing doing during the quarantine?

Despite most of my work coming to a stop, I am keeping on my toes. Consequently, when Covis-19 is a thing of the past, and I can restart my business, I will hit the ground running.

Those little things we miss during the Covid-19 crisis

We are all missing out on the simple pleasures of life. The ordinary things that bring us moments of happiness.

Man eating in a fast food outlet. This came to a stop during the Covid-19 crisis.
His fast food meal isn’t my thing, but I know lots of folk missed out on their burgers.

I really yearn to photograph people again; it’s one of my favourite things. Besides not being able to run my photography courses my annual Farne Islands expeditions are not likely to be going ahead this year either. Of course all weddings and events are put on hold too. But at least I can go for a walk with my camera.

Are yout finances hit by Covid 19?

The stopping of most of my business has meant much of my income has dried up.

Being blunt, the support scheme for the self-employed is next to useless. They based the grant on the average income from the three tax years up until 2018-2019. For me, the first two of those years were spent setting up my business. Back then, we were relying on savings and my wife’s income while I built up trade. Consequently, this support amounts to 80% of very little.

Furthermore, the taxable grant is based on ones net earnings, so doesn’t take into consideration, nor covers, standing overheads or tax.

Like many self-employed workers I speak with, I feel let down by this. If you are in the same boat, you are not alone. Self-employment increased by 195,000 between 2017 and 2019, that is a lot of people in the first throws of setting up their businesses who will get little support from the government in this crisis.

The creative arts is equal in size to the financial services industry, around 8% of GDP. With photography alone being worth £1.8 billion, employing 43700 people, half of whom are self-employed, a lot of professional photographers will be badly hit by this crisis.

Help your local businesses

Are you are stuck with things to do? There are ways you can help your small local businesses get back on their feet that costs you nothing.

Spend 5 minutes to write a kind review on Google, Facebook or Trip Advisor. Then, comment on their statuses or Tweets and share their posts or blogs with your friends. These tiny things make a huge difference to small businesses. Furthermore, those small kindnesses will be paid back. It’s good karma!

Covid-19 will finally recede. Then, we will try to pull ourselves out of the other side of the economic recession. At that point we will all need every drop of moral support we can get.

Covid-19 will end

Have you enjoyed this post? If so, please join in with the conversation below or on social media. Let me know whether you’ve kept busy during this crisis.

Keep safe and stay well.

Please do share this post with your online friends.

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